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In It to Win It

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House passes bill decriminalizing marijuana at federal level

I read this a little earlier today and didn't see that it was posted. Where are all the small-government republicans and libertarians? This is their time to reduce government regulation and allow business to thrive. ...all bullshit marketing, just like we thought.


Washington (CNN)The House of Representatives has approved legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and seek to "address the devastating injustices caused by the War on Drugs."

Friday's vote in the Democratic-led House is the first time a chamber of Congress has voted on federal marijuana decriminalization. It has little chance of passing the Republican-led Senate, however.

The bill passed largely along party lines: 222 Democrats, five Republicans and Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian, voted in support while 158 Republicans and six Democrats voted against.

The Republicans who voted for the bill are Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, the bill's co-sponsor, as well as Reps. Brian Mast of Florida, Tom McClintock of California, Denver Riggleman of Virginia and Don Young of Alaska. The Democrats against were Reps. Cheri Bustos and Dan Lipinski of Illinois, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.
Posted by In It to Win It | Fri Dec 4, 2020, 05:35 PM (1 replies)

Sen. David Perdue Led Dollar General's Outsourcing Effort Into China

The Intercept

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., arrives to the Senate carriage entrance of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 29, 2020. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images

The Georgia Republican’s campaign rhetoric around China contrasts sharply with his business record.

In the pivotal Senate race between Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia and his Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, the candidates have traded accusations around financial connections to China.

But previously unreported business disclosures show that Perdue, during a touchstone period of his business career, expanded aggressively into China to import cheap products into the United States.

Before entering the Senate in 2015, Perdue spent much of his career advising and managing large corporations, including serving as the chief executive of Dollar General from 2003 through 2007. Investor reports and earnings call transcripts from that period show that as chief executive of the variety goods giant, Perdue pushed to increase profitability by importing products made by factories in low-wage overseas markets.

Shortly after taking over at Dollar General, Perdue told an analyst with JPMorgan Chase that the company was “light in sourcing relative to some of our competitors” and pledged to “redouble” the effort to tap into markets in Asia. In 2004, Perdue opened a Chinese affiliate, Dollar General Global Sourcing Holdings, which maintains offices in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, to integrate the company’s import strategy.

“We have opened a sourcing office in Hong Kong, and I can tell you we have had a dramatic impact on our business by having direct contact with our manufacturers,” boasted Perdue during a talk to a group of investment bankers the following year. Subsequent investor reports noted that Dollar General’s focus on “utilizing our Hong Kong Office” improved profitability by increasing the amount of goods “manufactured overseas” at low cost.

Hong Kong, which became part of China in 1997, has long served as the regional hub for international buyers seeking to source low-cost manufactured goods and raw resources for U.S. companies.

The outsourcing record contrasts sharply with the Georgia Republican’s rhetoric on the campaign trail. Perdue has swiped at Ossoff, claiming that his Democratic opponent has financial connections to China.

“You took money from the Chinese government that originated this virus in the first place,“ said Perdue at the Atlanta Press Club debate last week. “Jon Ossoff won’t hold China accountable. He works for them,” exclaims the narrator in Perdue’s latest campaign advertisement.

The comments reference Ossoff’s work as managing director of Insight TWI, an investigative television production company. The company sold documentaries to a number of film networks and television stations, including to PCCW, a Hong Kong-based telecom and media firm — a transaction the Perdue campaign has pounced on in the closing weeks of the election.

PCCW is a publicly traded corporation. The chairman of the company is Richard Li, one of the wealthiest residents of Hong Kong. The Perdue campaign has cited Li’s criticism of the Hong Kong pro-independent protest movement and PCCW’s ties to the Chinese state-owned firms to suggest that the documentary sales reveal undue influence from the Chinese government.

The Ossoff campaign has stated that the payments were for “two investigations produced by Jon’s company of ISIS war crimes against women and girls,” representing “one of dozens of TV stations and distributors in more than 30 countries that have aired Jon’s work.”

“Jon strongly supports Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and condemns the brutality and authoritarianism of the Chinese Communist Party,” the campaign said previously in a statement to the press.

“As CEO of Dollar General, which is an American Fortune 500 company, David Perdue created tens of thousands of American jobs, a claim that has been verified by independent fact checkers,” said John Burke, a spokesperson for the Perdue campaign, in a statement to The Intercept.

The Perdue campaign did not directly address the Chinese outsourcing effort led by Perdue at Dollar General. Instead, the campaign claimed “Jon Ossoff has never created a single American job” and noted that Pierre Omidyar, the philanthropist who provided the funding to launch The Intercept and still funds it, also helped underwrite an Insight TWI investigative series on corruption in Africa.

“Given Omidyar’s financial backing of Ossoff’s personal business, it’s no surprise to see The Intercept try to spread false narratives to prop up his candidacy and distract from the fact that his ties to the Chinese Communist government continue to raise serious ethical questions,” said Burke.

The Intercept maintains full editorial independence from all donors.

Ossoff’s campaign has pledged to “expose and attack unfair and unethical trade, labor, and environmental practices by overseas competitors that disadvantage American workers and businesses.” He has campaigned to reduce U.S. dependence on Chinese supply chains and work to “strengthen domestic producers.”

Despite the echo of President Donald Trump in the latest campaign barbs about China, Perdue has been a staunch supporter of globalized free trade for much of his career. Perdue worked for Kurt Salmon Associates, a management consulting firm, where he helped footwear companies import shoes from Taiwan, Korea, China, Indonesia, and Malaysia. He later worked with Sara Lee Corporation in Hong Kong to improve the firm’s sourcing strategies.

The issue of outsourcing came up during Perdue’s previous Senate race, during which comments he made during a deposition were unearthed. The comments, taken during a lawsuit over his role as chief executive of a company called Pillowtex Corporation, showed Perdue explaining under oath that he had “spent most of my career” outsourcing jobs. During the deposition, Perdue discussed his focus on foreign sourcing operations while he worked at Reebok, as well.

Perdue’s business outlook on the need for cheap labor extends to other policy areas. The Georgia Republican opposes raising the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 since 2009. The Intercept previously reported that Perdue privately lobbied the Trump administration to increase the number of H-2B visas to allow businesses to bring in low-wage migrant workers this year.
Posted by In It to Win It | Wed Dec 2, 2020, 12:49 PM (4 replies)

The naked corruption of Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue


Control of the United States Senate hinges on two January 5 runoff elections in Georgia, where incumbent Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are facing Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock respectively. Most immediately, the race is a contest over whether President-elect Joe Biden and the Democratic Party will be able to govern — especially by passing another big coronavirus rescue package.

However, Loeffler and Perdue are also excellent examples of what interests the Republican Party serves — namely, the ultra-rich, which includes both Loeffler and Perdue personally. These are two people who were rich before they got into politics, and leveraged their power as senators to make themselves even more rich — by profiteering off the pandemic. It is government of, by, and for the top 0.1 percent.

Let me consider their cases in turn. David Perdue is a longtime businessman who served as CEO of Dollar General in the mid-2000s, where he worked diligently to source more products from China. According to his financial disclosures, he is worth between $15 million and $43 million.

As Michela Tindera writes at Forbes, Kelly Loeffler and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher own a big stake in International Exchange, a financial clearinghouse company that Sprecher founded and where he remains CEO and chairman. (That company also owns the New York Stock Exchange, where Sprecher is again chairman.) After closely examining Loeffler's financial disclosure forms and other information, Tindera estimates that the couple is worth at least $800 million, and likely over $1 billion — or roughly quadruple the wealth of the second-richest member of Congress, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Here's how the pandemic profiteering worked. On January 24, there was a private all-Senate briefing about the looming disaster — long before there was a broad public understanding that the U.S. was going to get slammed by COVID-19. Immediately afterward, both Loeffler and Perdue started trading strategic stocks. As The Daily Beast reported at the time, Loeffler executed 29 transactions valued between $1.275 and $3.1 million in the following days before the market crashed, almost all of them sales — one exception was a purchase of Citrix, which sells teleworking software. (Also, Loeffler recently violated the legal prohibition on soliciting campaign funds in a Senate office building.)

Perdue made a similar number of trades, but bought more than Loeffler — in particular, an investment of up to $850,000 in DuPont, which manufactures personal protective equipment. And as The Associated Press reports, in late January he sold between $1 million and $5 million in shares of Cardlytics, a financial technology firm, at $86 per share. Then, when the market had bottomed out in March, he snapped up between $200,000 and $500,000 of Cardlytics shares at $30 apiece; since then the share price has shot back up to $121. Nice tidy little profit to counterbalance the 270,000 dead Americans. (The Daily Beast also reports that in 2019, Perdue bought up shares of a submarine parts manufacturer before voting to give the company a lucrative contract, then sold it for another handsome profit.)

When reports of these trades first came out, both Loeffler and Perdue insisted they had nothing to do personally with the moves. "I have never used any confidential information I received while performing my Senate duties as a means of making a private profit ... professionals buy and sell stocks on our behalf," wrote Loeffler in an April 8 Wall Street Journal op-ed. Perdue told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that advisers made his investment decisions on their own.

In the first place, candidates not taking direct control of their stock trades does not actually remove the conflict of interest. If you are a senator, and you hire a bunch of asset managers to look after your investments without any kind of blind trust, you still know what those investments are. You can make decisions knowing that your Goldman Sachs lackeys will make the profit-maximizing move in response — which is the best-case scenario of what happened here.

But realistically speaking, it is virtually impossible to believe that all these trades had nothing to do with the two senators. Are we really to believe it was a coincidence that these asset managers started making "there is a pandemic coming" trades the very same day the two were receiving classified briefings on the disaster? Come on. Indeed, The New York Times recently reported that Perdue was lying with his blanket denial — he did directly instruct his manager to sell the Cardlytics shares after receiving a cryptic email mentioning "upcoming changes" from the company's then-CEO. (Perdue and Loeffler have been cleared of legal wrongdoing by the Department of Justice, but given that Attorney General Barr is a shameless Trump stooge, that is hardly reassuring.)

Since then, both Perdue and Loeffler have largely downplayed the pandemic. Unlike Ossoff and Warnock, both have been holding large, in-person rallies. In July, both Loeffler and Perdue came out against extending the boost to unemployment insurance in the CARES Act, and since then neither have answered questions about further economic rescue measures from Atlanta Magazine. Instead, since the election they have amplified Trump's flagrant lies that Georgia's Republican governor and secretary of state somehow helped Joe Biden steal the election there.

Over the last decade or so, there has been a long discussion of why Democrats are bleeding votes in rural areas (precisely where Republicans run up huge margins in Georgia). And on one level it's an important debate — there is good evidence that as Democrats embraced austerity, deregulation, and free trade that harmed such places, it hurt their vote share.

But on another level, it is frankly staggering that the Republican Party has swooped in to replace them. The Democrats may not be much of a friend to the working class or rural farmers, but Republicans are straight-up picking their pockets. If you want a couple senators to govern solely on behalf of their massive asset portfolio while leaving everyone else twisting in the wind, vote Perdue and Loeffler.

Posted by In It to Win It | Wed Dec 2, 2020, 08:48 AM (3 replies)
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